It’s been a hell of a year, I think to myself as I look at my side-by-side photos from National Coming Out Day. I came out to my mom last summer after going through a hard breakup. It was one of the scariest things I’d ever done. “She’s gonna be so disappointed.” “She’s gonna judge me.” “She won’t understand.” But she did understand. She did not judge. And In fact she was PROUD of me. We ended up having a 2 hour phone call that started with me crying about having my heart broken and ended with us laughing about what my ‘type’ is. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive mother. We can now talk casually about women and I don’t have to watch what I say around her. The decision to come out is not easy. You try to find the “perfect time” but the truth is, there isn’t a perfect time. When you’re ready, you will know. I won’t lie and say living my life as an out lesbian has been easy. I’ve been called a “faggot” by strangers while holding a girl’s hand. I’ve gotten those awkward stares from neighboring tables while on a date. I’ve dealt with fragile guys that feel threatened by my sexuality who say “I can give you ‘something’ she can’t.” Yes those things are painful (and annoying) but unfortunately those are some things that come along with living a life out loud. There are such beautiful and liberating moments like going to Pride festivals and seeing the community come together. I live for celebrating every victory the LGBTQ community gets. I live for fun nights in WeHo (West Hollywood) dancing my ass off. I melt when I hear a love song about women who love women. I am visible, whether society likes it or not. What I’ve learned in my 25 years on this earth is I’m not here to please everyone. I am here on my pursuit of happiness, just like you. I deserve a life that doesn’t need to be filtered or silenced for the comfort of others. I deserve to live out loud and proud. I deserve love and acceptance, and that starts with self. I hope those that are in the closet will one day find their strength to live and love, regardless of who is watching.